Coronavirus: Scottish childminders to receive £330,000 in extra funding
Friday, September 11, 2020
New financial support for childminders in Scotland ‘falls short’ of offering the level of support needed and is lower than that of other childcare settings, the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) warns.
The Scottish Government has confirmed that an extra £330,000 has been made available to the Childminding Workforce Support Fund to provide small grants for childminders experiencing financial hardship.
While welcoming the additional support, the SCMA has warned that it will be ‘insufficient to meet the level of need’ and believes that the financial support for childminding remains ‘significantly out of step’ with that allocated to other childcare providers in Scotland through the Scottish Government’s Transitional Support Fund.
Around 30 per cent of childminding settings - 1,300 childminders - are still closed after the schools have returned, when it would have been expected that many more would have reopened if it was financially viable for them to do so.
SCMA’s survey data has also shown that it may take many months for many childminders to recover their normal business models, that they are experiencing financial pressures as a result of this and require some financial support to assist their business sustainability.
In July, the Scottish Government match-funded SCMA’s £30,000 support fund for childminders experiencing financial hardship because of Covid-19, enabling 170 childminders to benefit from hardship grants of £350 with the combined figure of £60,000.
Although the second round of support with a further £330,000 will enable another 940 childminders to receive small grants of up to £350, SCMA recognises that it presents mixed news for dedicated childminding professionals, many of whom are concerned that they have not been able to access transitional support from the Scottish Government’s Transitional Support Fund alongside other childcare providers.
Graeme McAlister, chief executive, SCMA, said, ‘SCMA has worked extremely hard to highlight the need for financial support from Scottish Government for childminding and we are pleased that this money will help more childminders experiencing financial hardship.
'However, we are deeply concerned that it is not on an equal footing to funding recently made available through the Scottish Government’s Transitional Support Fund to other childcare providers, which excluded childminders. It also falls far short in meeting the level of support required at this time to assist the financial viability of childminding in Scotland.’
SCMA has also advised the Scottish Government of its deep concerns at the inequalities between childminding and other childcare providers in Scotland which have emerged in recent years and which, as a result of Covid-19, are getting wider and deeper. It says that these inequalities require intervention and further financial support, to maintain and invest in the future of childminding.
The funding announcement from the Scottish Government also came with the commitment to develop an Action Plan for Childminding, welcomed by the SCMA as it recognises that childminding faces distinct challenges and needs.
However, the SCMA said that it was ‘essential’ that the plan included a number of new, extra and supportive measures to provide the affirmative action which is required to restore confidence from the childminding sector.
Mr McAlister said, ‘The Childminding Workforce Support Fund is not a "cure all" and we know that these small grants will only offer modest financial support to those childminders experiencing extreme financial difficulties. Nonetheless, SCMA is proud that our intervention has helped to established this funding stream. Childminders should be assured that we will continue to advocate for more financial support for childminding and that we are committed to ensuring that professional childminding is valued, gains the same level of recognition as other forms of childcare and is treated equally.’
The reopening and application process for the Childminding Workforce Support Fund will be promoted to all childminders and will be open sooner a limited time.